Blue Origin has proposed converting the used steps of the company's New Glenn rocket as modules into commercial habitats. The proposal was part of a study commissioned by NASA to investigate the potential for commercialization of human space orbit circuits.
In August 2018, NASA chose 13 companies to conduct studies on the potential of commercial human spaceflight in the low orbit. Among the industry's stalwarts like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the prospective launch service provider Blue Origin was selected.
Earlier today, NASA announced the results of the 13 studies and Blue Origin's proposal to reformulate a rocket's overrun as a commercial habitat module undoubtedly a highlight. The company proposed an ambitious three-year "Path to LEO Commercial Habitat". The plan begins in year 1 with a concept design, and within just three years, teams have completed reviews of human orbit certification.
At this stage, the concept is still a rough proposal and does not include how exactly Blue Origin is planning to retrofit a used stage in orbit. Without an orbital platform like the space shuttle, any kind of continuous work of people in orbit would be difficult to achieve. Viable methods could be using a robot alternative or constructing stages with much of the already installed hardware.
In addition to Blue Origins out-of-the-box approach, other proposals examined the commercialization of the international space station and the construction of more traditional commercial habitats. It is still unclear whether NASA is planning to help with one of the 13 proposals.